Interlochen cancels in-person summer camp, moves instruction online

Apr 24, 2020

For the first time since 1928, Interlochen’s annual arts camp will not take place in person.

Instead, camp activities will move online with a series of three-week programs in what is being called Interlochen Online Arts Camp. The virtual courses will commence June 28 to July 19.


More than 2,500 campers in grades three to 12 attend the camp every summer. In 2019, camp students came from 51 states and territories and 33 countries.  

“After careful evaluation of the projected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to pivot this summer’s Arts Camp to a virtual model,” Interlochen Center for the Arts President Trey Devey said in a statement. “No words can fully capture our profound sadness and disappointment in the loss of convening on campus, but we are guided by our first priority: ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, volunteers, guests, and the entire Interlochen community.”

Students engage in creative arts during the 2019 Interlochen Arts Camp Collage concert.
Credit Interlochen Center For the Arts

Campers and instructors are also having a difficult time dealing with the news. 

Doug Spaniol, of Indianapolis, has taught bassoon at camp since 1999.

 

“Of all the disappointments resulting from this pandemic, this is one of the largest, if not the largest,” Spaniol says. “But, we’re dealt a certain hand, and I have faith in the leadership and the faculty and the administration of Interlochen to make the right decisions and do the right thing. I do also have faith that we can deliver high quality arts instruction, even in less-than-ideal situations.”

Brother and sister Sydney Fink, 13, and Lucas Fink, 16, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, also feel a sense of loss with the announcement. They both attended camp the last three summers and had planned on attending again this year. 

“I’ve always loved Interlochen. It’s like a second home. I love the creative musical community,” Sydney Fink says. 

She was going to study the bassoon this summer, following last summer’s studies of wind instruments. Her brother dove into visual and creative arts the last three summers and was looking forward to doing the same this summer.

Although he’s disappointed, Lucas Fink understands why Interlochen made the decision to move instruction online. 

“I guess if you think about it it makes sense, because it’s international... If everybody is coming in and going back home and getting each other sick in the tight cabins that we have, it just doesn’t really make sense for it to continue,” he says. 

Aleksandar Vitanov, of Macedonia, performs at the 2019 Interlochen Arts Camp Collage concert.
Credit Interlochen Center For the Arts

Online camp programs will include acting, musical theatre, theatre design and production, creative writing, visual arts, dance, filmmaking, classical music performance and composition, music production and engineering, songwriting, jazz performance and improvisation, and general arts. 

Interlochen Arts Camp also employs more than 1,000 faculty and staff members in the summer in addition to the 350 year-round employees.

The National Music Camp was founded in 1928 as a music camp for high school students. Renamed Interlochen Arts Camp in 1991, the camp now hosts programs in many art forms, including dance, creative writing and film for students in grades three to 12.